Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and now Mixed Reality are experiencing a shift that will make these technologies more widely available to our clients, and we here at VisionThree are excited for the future!

In 2016, many predicted that Microsoft’s Hololens would be a game changer in immersive tech. Here at VisionThree, we did quite a bit of R&D in Mixed Reality, and had success with several proof-of-concept applications using pathfinding, voice commands, and virtual interactivity on physical objects. Our developers were poised and excited to bring new solutions to our clients using technology that had previously been reserved for the fictional crew of the Starship Enterprise!

However, the hefty $3,000 price tag gave more than a few potential clients an understandable reason to pause on adopting this groundbreaking new tech. Their concerns were real. Not only would they have to purchase an expensive headset, but they would also need a powerful computer with a (likely) expensive, upgraded graphics card in order to even use the headset.

Questions like “What is the return on investment?” and “When will we see that return?” made many walk away from the Hololens in the beginning.

Microsoft has realized the need to overcome this very real pricing problem, and in January, they revealed a new collection of headsets from Dell, Acer, and HP, all costing around $300, and along with it, new software that allows users to run these headsets from a $500 PC or the integrated graphics card of a laptop. This is the true game changer: the accessibility. Multiple headset setups can now be mass distributed within companies, allowing businesses more freedom to work with developers to create more complex solutions without such drastic sticker-shock to hold them back. From large-scale project planning to employee training, the possibilities for implementing this new hardware are only as limited as our imaginations.

And with new hardware suddenly settling into prices that allows the general public easier access, companies can finally begin to work with developers to craft consumer-level solutions for their own clients as well.

Just this week, Microsoft once again revealed new hardware, but this time focusing in on “Mixed Reality,” which is slated to be a powerful hybrid of Virtual and Augmented realities. The new Samsung HMD Odyssey, with its portability, quick setup, and reasonable pricetag ($399 as of this post) make it a top contender for our clients who wish to harness Mixed Reality to make a major shift in the way their company does business. This hybrid is likely to become the real arena for practical solutions to everyday business needs.

Here’s what Microsoft has to say about this new era of Mixed Reality:

With Windows we are delivering the only operating system designed for the broadest range of inputs from traditional inputs like keyboards and mice, touch and ink, gamepads and our new industry defining motion controllers to now more natural human inputs such as gaze, voice and gestures.

This approach allows us and our ecosystem to embrace and take advantage of a wide range of experiences across the mixed reality spectrum – from simplified augmented reality, to immersive virtual reality, to holographic computing – forever changing the way each of us work, communicate and play.

EDIT: Just after this post was completed, Facebook announced yet another new headset – the Oculus Go, listed at $199. It appears that the mobile headset will be a similar experience to the Gear VR, allowing users to spin around but not move freely. The world of VR/AR and Mixed Reality is updating every day!